Friday, August 26, 2016

Release Blitz + Giveaway for Fish Wielder by J R R R Hardison

Hey guys!

I've got another little something extra for you today! Fish Wielder by J R R R Hardison released this week and if it hasn't hit your radar yet, consider this post your first *ping* -- keep reading for info, an excerpt and a GIVEAWAY.

Happy Reading everyone!

Fish Wielder is kind of like Lord of the Rings, set in Narnia, if it was written by the guys who made Monty Python and the Holy Grail while they were listening to the music of They Might Be Giants.

In ancient times, the Dark Lord Mauron cooked the most powerful magic chocolate dessert ever made, the Pudding of Power. One thousand and two years later, the evil leader of the Bad Religion, the Heartless One, is trying to recover the lost pudding in order to enslave the peoples of Grome. Only the depressed barbarian warrior Thoral Might Fist and his best friend, Brad the talking Koi fish, have a chance to save the world of Grome from destruction, but that's going to take a ridiculous amount of magic and mayhem. Thus begins the epically silly epic fantasy of epic proportions, Fish Wielder—book one of the Fish Wielder Trilogy.


Author J R R R Hardison :
Jim has worked as a writer, screen writer, animator and director in entertainment and commercials since graduating from Columbia College of Chicago in 1988. He is the author of The Helm, which YALSA praised as one of 2010’s best graphic novels for young readers, and has directed animated commercial and entertainment projects, including spots for M&M's, AT&T, and Kellogg's. He co-founded Character LLC in 2000 and has given story advice to many of the world's largest brands, such as Target, Verizon, Samsung, McDonalds and Walmart, and has even appeared on NBC's "The Apprentice" as an expert adviser on brand characters. Jim lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two kids and two dogs. Fish Wielder is his first novel.

CHAPTER ONE EXCERPT

© 2016 Jim Hardison
Chapter 1
It was the anniversary of something bad.
Thoral Mighty Fist, perhaps the toughest, most mysterious and manly fighter in all the mystical world of Grome, sat in the Inn of the Gruesomely Gashed Gnome in a dark corner,
weeping into his tankard of warm ale. He hated ale, especially when it was warm, although he’d been swilling the stuff since before breakfast. Now it was well after dinner, and all he’d eaten the entire day was a piece of dry toast and a couple of olives as black as his mood. He raised his mug for another bitter sip and the jeweled hilt of the magic broadsword, Blurmflard, poked him in the side like a reminder of past mistakes. It was awkward to sit at a table with a broadsword at your belt, but the mighty barbarian had kept Blurmflard with him at all times ever since the blade was lent to him by his wizard mentor, Yiz. He even slept with it.
As Thoral sat brooding and trying to adjust his position to more comfortably accommodate the blade, a twelve-inch-long orange koi fish walked into the bar on his tail fins. Standing in the entryway, the koi peered around the crowded, dim interior until his bulging eyes fell on Thoral. The fish frowned.
At six feet, Thoral was a head taller than most other human inhabitants of the world of Grome and was so powerfully built that he barely fit at the heavy wooden table at which he sat. He was dressed pirate-style, with a black leather vest buttoned over his otherwise bare chest, tight, plum-colored breeches and knee-high, iron-toed boots. A wide crimson belt bore the magic sword as well as an assortment of leather and velvet pouches. A less attractive or more effeminate man would never have been able to pull off such an outfit, but for Thoral it was no
problem. He had chiseled features and a head of thick, golden hair that curled to his massive shoulders. The few strands of gray made him even more handsome–in a seasoned and mature
way, of course. His glorious hair notwithstanding, his most striking feature was his piercing gaze. So intense, so smoldering was his stare, that those on the receiving end often felt the need
to look away for fear that they would catch fire. There was no word in Gromish for the vibrant purple color of his eyes, but they were violet.
The koi contemplated the warrior. Given his charisma, strength and fighting abilities, Thoral could easily have conquered his own kingdom. But Thoral didn’t seem to care about that
kind of thing. He mostly liked to drink and fight and brood and wander around in forests looking at trees. As the fish watched, the mighty warrior burped. The hot gas seemed to sear his manly nostrils so that he blinked as his striking violet eyes watered.
Thoral looked up from his drink and squinted around the bar to see if anyone had noticed his tears and if there was anyone worth fighting. He failed to detect the fish, who was hidden behind the legs of a passing barmaid. The other patrons were humans, except a few half-elves and a handful of drunken gnomes. He could take them all on single-handedly, but he knew from experience that he’d feel even worse after beating them. Especially the gnomes. It was better to do nothing, to sit and drink and wish things were different.
Thoral closed his eyes and hunched forward to lay his tawny-maned head on the table. The rough-hewn planks, though, smelled as if they had been wiped with a mildew-y rag, so he
sat back up. He fumbled in one of his many belt pouches for the last of his dried herbs, crushed them between his long, calloused fingers and inhaled their fading minty fragrance. It wasn’t quite strong enough to clear the lingering scent of the mildew.
As Thoral sniffled at his mint leaves, the fish sighed. Shaking his head, he stalked across the sticky floor on his tail fins. The barbarian noticed him with a wince.
“This is the end, Bradfast,” Thoral grumbled at the fish in his outlandish accent, his rough voice heavy with melancholy. Thoral tended to transpose the sounds of v and w and to pronounce th at the beginning of words as z because he was foreign.
“Here we go again,” Brad commented dryly, leaping up onto the bench and then the table. He picked his way across the tabletop and stopped before the warrior. “This isn’t the end,
Thoral. It’s just the beginning…or maybe the middle or something. The point is, it’s not over. It’s never over until you give up—or you’re dead.”
“I dost wonder about death,” the barbarian said, as if to himself. He also used outdated words like dost because he spoke High Gromish even though most everybody else spoke the low version. This was also because he was foreign. “Would it truly bring an end? Or just a transition to another world?”
“You’ve had too much to drink, Thoral,” the fish cautioned. “You always get morose when you drink. It’s time we get moving. Maybe go on another adventure or something.”
“I am tired of adventures,” the warrior sighed. “I wish only to go home.” He burped again, and the fish staggered back, blinking.
“Come on, pal. Let’s get out of here,” Brad suggested, fanning himself with a fin. “We’ll fight a monster or go on a quest or steal the jeweled eye from an idol or something. It’ll be fun.”
“My heart is too…” Thoral trailed off. “What is that word that means when something has substantial weight?”
“Heavy,” the fish supplied. Thoral always had trouble remembering that one.
“Heavy. Yes. My heart is too heavy for adventure,” Thoral complained.
“Well, maybe if we pick something really hard, you’ll get killed,” the fish offered.
“A hero’s death?” Thoral asked, perking up just a bit.
“Yeah, sure. A hero’s death.”
“And then I couldst be done with this world,” Thoral murmured.
“Exactly,” Brad affirmed.
“Then let us go,” Thoral said, “this very instant.” He slammed his drink down on the table so hard that some of the ale sloshed out of the tankard, splashing at the fish. The koi danced back, just missing a soaking.
“Up to bed first and we’ll hit the road in the morning,” Brad countered, stepping around the puddle of spilled drink.
“No, we will leave now.” There was a dangerous edge to the warrior’s tone that drew the attention of everyone in the room even though he had not raised his voice. The bar went silent.
“Look, Thoral,” the koi answered, “it’s getting late. I’m tired. You’re drunk. We could both use some sleep. Let’s not make a rash decision that might lead to all kinds of unexpected
complications.”
Every eye turned to see the barbarian’s reaction. “We will leave now,” Thoral insisted. The warrior and the fish stared at each other.
“Be reasonable,” Brad tried again. “Just give me one good reason why we shouldn’t wait
until morning.”
“We will leave now,” the barbarian declared, “because I am Thoral Mighty Fist!”
Everyone gasped. Brad sagged, defeated. Once Thoral noted that he was Thoral, there was no point in arguing further. Everyone knew it. That’s just how it was.
With that, Thoral drained his pewter tankard and crushed it one-handed. He got unsteadily to his feet, massive muscles rippling under sun-bronzed, battle-scarred skin, and
transferred Brad from the tabletop into a belt pouch. Then he tossed a gold coin to the hideously disfigured gnomish innkeeper to pay for the mug he’d ruined even though it couldn’t have been worth more than a few coppers. The gnome had been engrossed in restocking a spice rack over the bar, so the coin struck him in the head and then clattered to the floor. He stepped on it with his clubfoot before it rolled away and then pinched it between his stubby, ring-clad fingers.
“Many thanks, Fist Wielder,” the innkeeper croaked, his one eye glittering from his gashed face as the warrior strode past him. “Where are you headed now? Not to the Godforsaken
Swamp, I hope. You should steer clear of that place for a while. There is nothing there but death.”
“I am eager for it,” the barbarian whispered as he strode past the gnome, who frowned and wrung his tiny hands.
Thoral staggered from the bar into the dark, filthy street. Although it was well past sundown, the city was still bustling with all kinds of criminals and cutthroats and that sort of
riffraff. They all cleared out of the big barbarian’s way. Three figures, cloaked and hooded in the black robes of the Bad Religion, watched from the shadows as Thoral went to the tavern’s
hitching post to untie his massive tiger-striped steed, Warlordhorse. He fumbled with the knot, his fingers clumsy from the ale. He shook his head and tried again.
“Let us attack now,” the leader of the Dark Brothers whispered. “We will take him unawares.”
“Uh…are you sure?” one of his subordinates asked, his voice quavering. “Have you heard the stories about him?”
“We have our orders,” the leader countered tersely. “Besides, he is inebriated, there are three of us, and we have the ultimate advantage…” He trailed off, sliding a dagger from a fold of his robe. The curved blade was slick with oily, black poison. He leered at his minions for a moment, and they reluctantly drew their own poison-coated daggers. The three of them started toward the barbarian while he was distracted.
Thoral was still having no luck with Warlordhorse’s tether, and grew frustrated. He put his face close to the rope, trying to get a better look in the dim light of the moon, and made
another attempt. The Dark Brothers crept closer, raising their poisoned blades in unison. Just one scratch and Thoral would be paralyzed before he even felt the wound. Agonizing death would follow within hours, but not before they had had time to drag the warrior before the master of their order to find out how much Thoral knew of their plans.
The Dark Brothers closed in on the unsuspecting champion, swift and silent as death itself.


Giveaway:
1 winner will receive a $10 (USD) Amazon Gift Card and a copy of FISH WIELDER
*Gift card is open internationally, but FISH WIELDER can only be mailed to a US mailing address*

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Release Day Blitz + GIVEAWAY for Unknown by Wendy Higgins

Hey guys!

Today is the release day of Unknown by Wendy Higgins and there's some celebrating to do!

Info and links below with a fantastic GIVEAWAY!

Happy Book Birthday Wendy!

Amber Tate believes the worst thing she’ll suffer in life is dealing with the unrequited love she feels for her brother’s best friend, Rylen Fite. She also believes war is something unfortunate that happens places far, far away from her rural Nevada town. She’s wrong on both counts.

When an unknown organization meticulously bombs major cities in the United States and across the globe, a trickle-down effect spreads to remaining towns at an alarming speed—everything from food and water sources to technology and communications are compromised. Without leadership, the nation is split between paralysis and panic, but Amber isn’t one to hide or watch helplessly. She’s determined to put her nursing skills to use, despite the danger, even if it means working alongside the man she can never have.

In this first installment of NY Times bestselling author, Wendy Higgins’s debut New Adult series, a frighteningly realistic apocalyptic America is brought to life, entwined with searing romantic tension that will leave you eager for more.


About Wendy Higgins:
Wendy Higgins is the USA Today and NY Times bestselling author of the SWEET EVIL series from HarperTeen, the high fantasy duology THE GREAT HUNT, and her independently published Irish Fantasy SEE ME.
After earning a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Radford, Wendy taught high school English until achieving her dream job as a full-time writer.
Wend lives on the Eastern Shore of Virginia with her husband, daughter, son, and little doggie Rue.

Giveaway:
Open International!
Grand Prize: Signed Paperback copy of Unknown with Poster, bookplate stickers, and bookmarks
1st & 2nd Prize: digital copies of Unknown (via B&N or Amazon) plus signed bookmarks and bookplate stickers


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 15, 2016

Quick Review: All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry


Publication: September 2013 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Acquisition: read an ARC won in a giveaway

Goodreads

5 / 5 Stars


This one sat on my shelf for a long time before I read it. It fell into the "judge and dismiss by it's cover without remembering why I have it or looking up what it was actually about to realize I really did want to read it"...hole

This is totally a real thing.

Once I got over my wrongness and actually started reading - I seriously couldn't put it down.

Mystery, historical, coming of age, romance that packs a punch. Every element was spot on and even when I thought I knew what I was going on, I was still hooked into the story.

I was wrong btw - about what I thought was going on. I was very very wrong and it was pretty fantastic when I found out how wrong I was.

Also - 2nd person point of view. I love this.

YA historical fiction fans would love this book! Especially if you also like a really good mystery and stellar character development!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: The Girl I Used To Be by April Henry

Genre: YA Mystery
Publication: May 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.
Acquisition: read a free eARC via NetGalley

Synopsis:
Fourteen years ago, a three-year-old girl was the only survivor at a horrific murder scene. Now she’s determined to search for the truth—and the killer is even more determined to stop her.

When Olivia’s mother was murdered and her father disappeared, everyone suspected her father had done it. Fast-forward fourteen years. New evidence now proves Olivia’s father was actually murdered on the same fateful day her mother died. That means there’s a killer still at large. Can Olivia uncover the truth before the killer tracks her down?
(from Goodreads)
4 / 5 Stars

I love April Henry's YA thrillers. They remind me of the hoards of Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine books I devoured as a teen.

The Girl I Used To Be is no exception.

It's a little neat and clean and this worked for me. Loved how independent Olivia is, even if her circumstances are a bit unrealistic. Loved the subdued romance. Love how I didn't guess who the 'bad guy' was before it was revealed. The mystery was pretty standard but there were a few twists.

I thought the whole 'emancipated teen' route bugged me bit as I see it as an excuse to write young characters who can act 100% like adults because the parents have been taken out of the equation. For Olivia though, it worked.

April Henry has been fast becoming an auto read author for me.

The Girl I Used to Be is a quick, fun mystery with some thrilling parts that make a lasting impression.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Book Review: The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Genre: YA Mystery
Publication: May 2016 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Acquisition: read a free eARC via NetGalley

Synopsis:
Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.
(from Goodreads)
3 / 5 Stars

Flew through this one. Not at all what I was expecting but good nonetheless.

Had it in my head that it wasn't set in present time - but it is - but I did question why a few times.

The community is remote and lives an old fashioned type of life with seemingly little to no contact with the 'outside' world. It worked for the most part but I had lots of questions - like why they didn't have a doctor and why some things, like modern 'cool' sneakers were ok but other things like indoor plumbing wasn't.

In any case, the story is more about the characters then it is about the setting so I just kinda went with it.

The May Queen Murders is at its heart, a murder mystery. Lots of speculation - boogie man in the woods type of superstitions so of course I could tell the truth was going to be something totally different.

I was right. And it was pretty good. Until it wasn't.

There is a climax to the story and lots of details are revealed and I was like, oh, ok, that kinda makes sense.
Then more details and I'm like, yeah, that fits better..sorta.
And then more details and I'm like WTH.

Lots of connecting pieces that only seemed to connect after the fact. I still have no idea of the motives behind like 50% of the action that takes place.

All in all, I enjoyed The May Queen Murders and even with the setting not actually being all that important (imo) I really liked it.

The silly issues I had are just that, silly, and some people might not have any issues at all.

Glad to have read and would recommend.